MILLVALE, Pa. (KDKA) - Millions of people love watching the Winter Olympics every 4 years. They love the hockey, the figure skating, and another odd-looking sport played on ice. It is curling.
"As easy as it looks on TV, I assure you it is not," says Matthew Peyton, founding partner of Lumberjaxes in Millvale. "It is one of the more difficult sports I have ever tried in my life."
Peyton should know. He and two friends from Greenfield, who are now his business partners, are opening Sliders. It is miniature curling facility that opens Wednesday.
Jack Welsh, another partner, explains they opened Lumberjaxes in September 2017. There are now four Pittsburgh locations and two more in Arizona. They started the axe-throwing business after seeing one and trying it in Philadelphia.
"We knew it (axe-throwing) would catch on quick. It caught on a lot quicker than we originally thought," said Welsh. "We are always on the lookout for new things. What's next? (We try to) stay in front of it -- and curling is up next."
Enter Sliders at the Millvale Lumberjaxes location. Sliders is a curling facility -- sort of.
Olympic curling is played on a massive sheet of ice. Competitors slide 40 pound granite stones down the ice toward a target at the opposite end of a lane.
In that regard, it is like bowling, but on ice. The goal is to stop your stone as close to the center of the target as possible. But your opponent uses their stones to knock your stones away in an effort to get closer to the bullseye and to steal the points.
The rules at Sliders are a bit different. There are no brooms like the Olympians use to sweep the ice thus controlling the direction and speed of the sliding stones.
Peyton says there is a very specific reason Sliders modified that rule. "Sweeping on the ice and running up and down, that's so easy to fall and injure yourself. We wanted to make this something that anyone can do safely."
There is another modification. The person releasing the stone slides starts in a kneeling position, but does not move. In the Olympics, that person actually slides down the sheet of ice with their stone. Then they release it toward the target. Again, Sliders changed the rules for the safety of participants who are not used to walking and sliding on ice. In Millvale, you will start on one knee, eye your target, and push your stone toward the target.
Welsh says those changes make it a game anyone can play. "Kids can do it -- all the way up to Grandma and Grandpa. There's really no age restrictions. I think anyone can have a good time doing it."
"We also are going to have some ice hosts here that are going to facilitate your events," says Peyton. "They are going to walk you through how to throw, how to score, and just kind of be your liaison while you are here."
Sliders opens Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving. That night that has become known as one of the hottest nights to go out on the town with friends and family. The owners expect to be very busy from the start.
"Fun with your friends. Be the first one. Get it on Instagram. Show everybody where you were at the night before Thanksgiving," says Welsh.
Sliders is located behind the Lumberjaxes location on Sedgwick Street in Millvale. The facility has four lanes, and four people compete on a lane at a time. The cost is $30 per person for a 55 minute session.
Even though Sliders is under a tent, it is outside, and you are playing on a giant sheet of ice so make sure you bundle up. Expect it to be about 30 degrees for your slide.
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